Jason Kessler, the organizer of last summer’s deadly “Unite the Right” demonstration, said he will concentrate on coordinating a “white civil rights” rally outside the White House next month rather than returning to Charlottesville, Virginia.
Less than three weeks until the anniversary of the Aug. 12 far-right rally, Mr. Kessler abandoned litigation aimed at letting him assemble in Charlottesville that weekend and said he will set his sights instead on Washington, D.C .
Appearing in Charlottesville federal court Tuesday, Mr. Kessler unexpectedly withdrew a request for an injunction he had sought against the city that, if approved, would have permitted him to hold a rally at a city park next month, notwithstanding safety and securing concerns raised in the wake of last year’s event culminating in violent clashes between far-right participants and counterprotesters.
“Kessler did not give a reason for withdrawing his request, but we are glad that he did, it was the right thing to do,” said Lisa Robertson, an attorney for the city of Charlottesville.
Rather than pursuing litigation to legally rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 11, Mr. Kessler said on Twitter that he is “focusing exclusively” on another previously proposed event scheduled for Aug. 12 at Lafayette Park, directly north of the White House.
“For various reasons we decided to dismiss the preliminary injunction,” Mr. Kessler said Wednesday. “Though this may be disappointing for some of you, the Washington DC event on August 12 has clearly become center stage after so many legal delays and lack of commitment from Charlottesville to provide the resources necessary to have a safe event,” he wrote in an email to individuals who expressed interest in either event.
Mr. Kessler, 34, sued Charlottesville in March after the city refused to grant him a permit letting him organize a rally Aug. 11 at the site of last year’s event, and in June he sought the injunction ultimately dropped during Tuesday’s hearing. In the interim, he sought permission to hold a “white civil rights” outside the White House, and that request is currently pending before the National Park Service after garnering preliminary approval.
In a website launched in advance of next month’s proposed event at Lafayette Park, Mr. Kessler advised bringing American and Confederate flags, but no weapons, shields, guns or anything considered “racist,” writing: “This is a White Civil Rights rally, not a street fight.”
Touted as a rally held in support of a Confederate statue, last year’s rally turned chaotic when fights broke out between counterprotesters and participants including white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal who was protesting the event, died after a “Unite the Right” participant drove his car into a crowd of demonstrators, according to authorities.